Secure payments through booking system

Since my credit card got falsely charged by a vendor in Texas last week, I am much more cautious as to where do I share my credit card number. And this is a common sense – we don’t want to say the number of our credit card out loud over the phone, or send in some e-mail.

That is yet another reason for businesses to employ an online booking system that allows for secure online payments. The customers are happy because they know that the payment will be as secure as the web allows. And you will be happy, because you don’t need to worry about the details of the payment, you just need to know it arrived.


Why booking system is not for everybody. Or is it?

I recently spoke to a hairdresser. Yes, she was cutting my hair while we were speaking, how did you know? Anyway, I asked her what kind of booking system do they use, because I couldn’t find any on their webpage.

“Oh, we don’t use any online booking system. We have a old DOS application and set appointments over the phone.”
“Why is that?”
“Well, many people don’t have any idea how long their hair will take. We do a lot of dyeing and you really need to talk to them to see how long it will take. That is why we decided that it is better to keep the booking over the phone, even though it is annoying, no kidding…”

I thought for a moment, and then asked: “Well, couldn’t you set the appointments for the dyeing automatically longer than those for cutting?”
”I guess, but we feel more comfortable discussing it first over the phone.”

Well, I know that I for one missed the on-line booking option on their website. But they have a point, sometimes you need to speak to the customer before making an appointment. Still, I am quite sure that a booking system will help you, anyway, even if you’re not a restaurant. You can just set the booking policy to only accept booking after confirmation, or only accept booking for the next day, not for today. That would also solve the problem of having people coming from the street without booking.

It is important to choose the on-line booking system in harmony with your needs, daily workflow and company policies. But at the end of the day, I think that most of the businesses can greatly benefit from some kind of on-line reservation system.


OpenTable for anything

You probably know OpenTable, THE site for booking tables in restaurants around the USA. As TechCrunch mentioned, there is a big market for booking and on-line appointment scheduling apps in many other areas and industries.

Doctors now have their ZocDoc appointment system for dentists or doctors, as well as  StyleSeat for hairstylists etc. The advantage is the centralized booking by town.

The disadvantage is low flexibility of such systems. The want you to do things your way, you really need to follow the way they do it so you can be listed on their site. The perfect appointment scheduling system should be much more flexible and customizable, allowing you to set your own rules and accommodate the way you know your company and business operates.


Not fluent in English? Online appointment system will save your business

Many businesses around the world are managed by people who do not yet speak the language of the country they live in. That is not to say that they can’t do their job well. They usually do a great job! But they can have trouble receiving calls and scheduling appointments over the phone.

A good scheduling software, preferably an online scheduling software, will help you tremendously. Your customers will easily go online to see when they can come to you, and they can simply book the time they prefer. You don’t need to speak to them over the phone, and they appreciate the quick overview and multiple choice of time.

For you, this means less time on the phone, more time with the customer and happier customers.


SuperSaaS review– good online appointment system with old habits

As you probably know, the SaaS stands for software as a service. SuperSaaS.com is an appointment scheduling software (as a service) that captured my attention by many languages it supports. SuperSaas also offers WordPress plug-ins, which is a nice bonus for WordPress users like myself.

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The site doesn’t look very modern to me, and it’s quite bland, frankly. The functions seem promising, though.

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You can try a demo of the booking right away, very nice. But again, the looks?

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Hands down, this is the most complicated pricing plan I have seen. Why is it so difficult. How am I supposed to know how many upcoming appointments will I need. I really do not like this.

Registration went OK, SuperSaaS doesn’t need you to fill redundant detail, although it does ask you whether you are an individual or a company.

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Unlike Appointment-Plus, Supersaas has all the countries listed. Good.

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After you finish your registration, you are welcomed by an empty dashboard. The interface seems somehow “work-in-progress” looking, as if it was not yet ready for users. The options are usually described in detail, but you really need to read, read and read to make any sense of it and find the right link.

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You can customize almost anything. But first you need to create the calendars, timetables, users, policies… Because of the versatility and lack of templates, you will need quite some time to set it all up. But that may be a good thing, if you like things just the way you want them.

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SuperSaaS Rating

SuperSaas may look a bit old-fashioned at first but provides you with great set of features. The setting up may be tedious but the result is fine from the perspective of your customer. You can customize all the messages and synchronize your appointments with Outlook or Google Calendar (have not tried yet). The GUI is sometimes counter-intuitive and you have to read a bit, but that may be the price you pay for complete customization, I guess.


OpenCal review–decent option, limitations, just buttons

OpneCal.com has a great, simple look, and all the promises sound, well, promising. On-line booking system with PayPal and SSL for customers, with all the options at hand. Well, we’ll see about that.

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The introduction to the system is well-written and the screenshots are clear and clean. Time to try OpenCal out.

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As with Genbook, only one staff member allowed for the cheaper version. No free plan either, just a trial – you can try 10 appointments for free.opencal-review-online-booking 10

Registration

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Signing up for OpenCal was straightforward and without much hassle. The guide that opens up after you sign-up, however, is not all that helpful. It took me quite some time to figure out what all needs to be filled. Frankly, for many flexible businesses this system is just too rigid, it won’t let you set flexible hours, break in the middle of the day (you can mark times as closed, but probably only one at a time) and the setting up was not as straightforward as I hoped.

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Limitations

Apart from only one staff member for the cheaper plan, this bothers me the most – no option for embedding a calendar into your website, just a button. This is, for many, including myself, a deal-breaker.

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OpenCal rating

OpenCal.com is an understandable tool with nice set of features. The guide for beginners was somewhat helpful, but a bit confusing. Again, only buttons, no embedded. Nice design, so three stars overall, but check other systems before signing up for this one. Luckily, you can try it out for free if you have time.


Synchronizing customers’ appointments with your Outlook

Welcome, Microsoft Outlook users. This little article is just for you. You are used to have all your appointments in one place, and are distressed by the prospect of having to check two or more apps for your daily schedule. But don’t worry. Some of the best on-line scheduling systems keep that in mind and allow you to synchronize the appointments customers input on-line with your personal Outlook Calendar.

  • Sester – on-line appointment scheduling allows synchronization with Outlook and iCal
  • TimeTrade – seems they are offering the same, have not tried yet

The synchronization with Microsoft Outlook calendar can be done through MS Exchange, or iCalendar open standard. Note that the price of Outlook is (obviously) not included in the price of the online booking system. Some systems will force you to download their desktop software (or software from other company) to watch for new appointments and keep you up to date. New Outlook (2010) has options to subscribe to on-line calendars, too. Last but not least, you can simplify things through Google Calendar.